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Painting a Rug: A DIY Conversation Piece

Paint on a rug usually equals panic. But there’s a new trend in DIY decor that lets you mix painting and rugs for a beautiful, unique result. Hand-painting a rug can give a room a personal touch with just a little planning. Here are some of the tools you’ll need and a few simple steps to painting a rug with the design of your choice.

painting a rug

Rug Options

While the sky’s the limit for your choice of painting designs, you’ll be a bit more limited when it comes to which rugs are ripe for a makeover. Soft and fluffy carpets won’t work for this DIY decorating idea because the fibers are likely to become matted and crunchy if coated with paint.

On the other hand, several kinds of flat-weave rugs with coarse, sturdy fibers will work well. Here are some of the rug types that take best to painting:

  • Berber
  • Sea grass
  • Sisal
  • Jute

Tool Kit

Once you’ve got the perfect rug, here’s what you’ll need to get started:

Image via Flickr by Keith Williamson
Image via Flickr by Keith Williamson
  • Drop cloths
  • Tape measure
  • Scissors
  • Upholstery paint or latex paint
  • Paint roller or sprayer
  • Paint tray
  • Painter’s tape and/or stencils

If your rug is one of the stiffer varieties, like sea grass, jute, or sisal, go with a latex paint in any finish. Flat weave rugs that are slightly softer (like those made of cotton or wool) should be paired with an acrylic formula. If you are putting the rug outside, choose a paint approved for outdoor use. You can also spray paint a rug, but this is best done on short-pile or looped carpets.

Meanwhile, the choice of painter’s tape or stencils is up to you based on the type of pattern you wish to create. Keep in mind that a paint sprayer tends to be the easier option when painting a rug with stencils.

Steps for Successfully Painting a Rug

Your tools are assembled and you’ve chosen your pattern. That means it’s time to pull the trigger. While it might sound daunting to paint a rug, it’s actually fairly fool-proof. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Lay your drop cloths out in a well-ventilated space, then roll out the rug on top of the cloths.
  2. Put your pattern in place. For painter’s tape patterns, press the tape down hard and consider adding a double layer to prevent seepage. Stencils can be moved from one section to another as you paint, but be sure to tape them in place before painting each section.
  3. Use your roller or sprayer to apply the paint. Add even coats and check for full coverage. Don’t saturate the rug with paint; instead, focus on coating the fibers evenly. Work from one end to the other until painting is complete.
  4. After letting the paint dry (which should take at least two hours), remove any tape or stencils still on the rug.
  5. Allow the rug to dry for a full day before using it in your home.

What kinds of patterns will you create when painting a rug? Geometric shapes, like diamonds or latticework patterns, and simple borders are some of the most popular options. Create a statement for any room with this easy and affordable DIY project.

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